The government will borrow more to invest in housing and we should expect announcements on the subject in next month’s Budget on November 22, Communities secretary Sajid Javid has signalled.
He was speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show after the government launched a call for evidence from those involved in housebuying on how to streamline the process and deal with issues like gazumping.
Javid (pictured) said: “We are looking at new investments, and there will be announcements – I’m sure the budget will be covering housing.
“What I want to do is make sure that we’re using everything that we have available to us to deal with this housing crisis.
“Where that means, for example, that we can sensibly borrow more to invest in the infrastructure that leads to more housing, take advantage of some of the record low interest rates that we have, I think we should be absolutely considering that.”
He pledged to increase all types of homes including social housing, build-to-rent homes and shared equity properties, though he ruled out loosening green belt restrictions.
Javid labelled the housing crisis the “biggest barrier to social progress in our country today”.
In response to the comments John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: “If hot air built homes, ministers would have fixed our housing crisis.
“Any promise of new investment is welcome, but the reality is spending on new affordable homes has been slashed since 2010 so new affordable housebuilding is at a 24-year low.”
Responses to the consultation can be submitted by 17 December online or by post, with the government asking for a response ‘from everyone with an interest in homebuying’.
In particular the government is seeking views on gazumping, building trust between parties and lock-in agreements, informing customers on what they need to do to make homes ‘sale ready’, and innovation to speed up the process.
The industry has responded positively to the government asking for help.
Stephen Ward, director of strategy, Council for Licensed Conveyancers, said: “This is a very positive and encouraging step by the government.
“The key areas they have identified for improvement in the home buying process, are areas that the CLC has been exploring with conveyancers, law-tech providers and other stakeholders for a while now, so we are pleased to see that the baton is now being picked up more widely.”
Russell Quirk, founder and chief executive of eMoov.co.uk, said: “Gazumping really is the scourge of the property market and a practice that is facilitated through a draconian, archaic conveyancing system, the likes of which is shared only with Papa New Guinea, which leaves large numbers of buyers extremely disappointed and out of pocket.
“During the most stressful part of the property purchase, it further exacerbates the emotional turmoil a buyer can find themselves in and can crush their hopes and dreams of securing that perfect property.
“The law needs to change to ensure there is a contractual obligation and to protect home buyers much earlier on in the process.”